FRAGILE—HANDLE WITH CARE
Assuming that the item you ordered from Amazon arrives unbroken in its box, you will be able to unpack it, assemble it if necessary, and enjoy all its benefits. But some of the things we buy come with instructions for proper use and maintenance.
The story of Saul is rarely used in teaching about the Holy Spirit but it contains simple and important principles. And it is a lesson about following instructions.
Samuel the prophet served several important functions that are unfamiliar to us. First, he anointed Saul’s head with oil and declared that God had made Saul Israel’s ruler. This was the equivalent of inauguration for kings of that time. Then Samuel did what he did best—he prophesied. Saul would meet several people, including a group of prophets.
Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy with them and be changed into another man. And it shall be when these signs come to you, do for yourself what the occasion requires; for God is with you. And you shall go down before me to Gilgal; and behold, I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice peace offerings. You shall wait seven days until I come to you and show you what you should do. (1 Sam 10:6-8)
The Spirit changes us profoundly. He gives us the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). When we are full of Him then we can simply respond to situations around us in ways that bless others and glorify God. The presence of God through the Holy Spirit gives amazing freedom, confidence and authority.
But that freedom lies within boundaries; we are still subject to the will of God. In Saul’s case, when little of the Bible had been written, God’s will was expressed to him through Samuel. “Go to Gilgal and wait until I come”. It was Saul’s failure to stay within God’s will that immediately set him into a downward spiral.
Saul had a spiritual panic attack. Massively outnumbered by a Philistine chariot brigade, his own army started trembling, hiding, or scattering (1 Sam. 13:5-14). Waiting is hard. It seems so unproductive and irresponsible to us “get-er-done” people. Outside pressures, especially from others, make it worse. Saul gave in to his impatience and fear. Action-man sacrificed to try to gain God’s favor. Instead, he got a rebuke and the process of transferring the kingdom to David began. The Spirit’s presence in our lives is fragile; He left Saul shortly after this (1 Sam. 16:14).
Continuous streams of fruitful spirit-led opportunities are rare. God seems to prefer episodes of doing then waiting. Cycles of sowing, watering, and reaping with periods of resting and listening are evident in Jesus’ life. We should expect them too because it is in the waiting that we hear His instructions and receive new infilling.
People sometimes talk as though the idea of obedience to commandments is outdated now that we have freedom in the Spirit. That is a lie. Even Jesus said that He could do nothing that the Father wasn’t doing (John 5:19). He taught His followers to live with the same dependence (John 15:4-11). The Holy Spirit is the life of God within us; He is the change within us. But the Spirit always works in us according to the instructions of God.
Be filled and changed, but keep listening and obeying.
The goal of Bible Maturity is to promote spiritual growth and faith in God. Please share these short Bible devotions with your friends and family and pray for revival.